Reading Light

I’m attempting to transition the new style I’ve been using into some character work. This piece is somewhat influenced by Riccardo Guasco, an Italian artist who lives in Wales; “he researches the lightness of form and color of the heat and he does it with a few colors and simple lines. He loves old posters of the 30s, Picasso, Depero, Feininger, Russian suprematism, cubism and heroic cycling of old times.” – https://www.clermont-filmfest.org/en/the-international-jury-welcomes-great-painter-riccardo-guasco/ – I’ve only just discovered this guy and I’m blown away by his skill, his work output is prolific as well.

The cubed style of the illustration above reminds me of the old Hanna Barbera cartoons that I watched so much as a kid, and is perhaps why it fills me with nostalgia. Who didn’t love The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and Yogi Bear?

Noir

Started today with a two hour photo study before cracking on with some work. This was a pretty straight forward study to complete, very few details, simple values etc… and is based upon a photo taken in Valencia. If I can i’ll try to do a study every day but I’m getting more and more freelance work (which is good), so you’ll have to forgive me if can’t deliver on this. I’m also considering doing some ink illustrations – probably in the same vein as the image above – because people keep asking me for originals, which I can’t provide because the majority of my work is created digitally, so expect an update on those soon.

A Break from the Norm

This is a study piece completed in the same vein as the great concept artist Ian McQue (he followed me on Instagram by the way – mad, I know!), and done in preparation for some paid work I’ve got on. The ink drawings on the right are quick 10 minute sketches that I meshed together to create the digital piece on the left. I worked very loosely with this one, using only seven or so layers in Photoshop, which is a break from the norm because I usually use about 80. I’m just dipping my toe into this style of work because it’s nice to try something a little different every now and then as it inspires growth. Anyway, hope you like it, and maybe i’ll do some more of these. Cheers!

P.s. I’ve just this second noticed that the houses remind me of David Winter Cottages. For those of you not familiar with DWC, they are small clay(?) sculptures of cottages and villages scenes that were very popular with geriatric men who wanted to pretend they were Lemuel Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels.

Ice to Meet You

This was a fun one to do. The previous illustration I posted felt like it was missing something and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I was originally going to have a large troll (this is set in Norway after all) standing just to the left hand side of the house with his nads out, totally oblivious. I messed around and decided to make it a snow scene and it seemed natural to have something huge frozen in the ice. I might do another two of these “frozen dinosaur” scenes just to make a trilogy. Stay tuned.

Capturing the Essence

This is one of those rare occurrences where I actually like a piece I’ve made. I focused on simplifying and abstracting a lot of elements here because I often get into the habit of adding too much realism and detail. There’s nothing wrong with realism and detail, but a piece that should take a couple of hours can end up taking a whole day to complete and be none the better for it. The focus should be on capturing the essence of an object and allowing the viewer to complete the illustration with their own details, rather than making the piece so realistic that there is no room for interpretation. If you look at the backgrounds of popular animated shows like The Flintstones, Samurai Jack, and Scooby Doo, you don’t see a renaissance painting, you see abstract and simplified shapes.

Anyway, above is based on a place in Norway called Hamnoy. Enjoy!

Late Night Deli

Just a quick study today. This one, unlike so many others, didn’t cause me any stress. I kept things super simple and didn’t go too crazy with the detailing. I found with this piece that I was initially drawing everything too precisely, so I had to go back and “correct” the shapes and proportions so they were wrong, which sounds weird to say, but it adds to the style. This is another place in NYC. I’ll probably get off the New York hype train at some point, but I just love the buildings! Enjoy!

Passion

I think there are moments in life when you know – just know – what it is you’re meant to do as a career. For years and years I struggled with this, always searching, always looking for something new. I tried a creative writing course because I love reading, and it was famously said “that all great writers are great readers”. But apparently I’m not much of a writer, or that is to say I didn’t have the patience for it. I learned to snowboard and thought perhaps I’d become a snowboard instructor, but that was just a flight of fancy. I love, absolutely and unconditionally adore American Football. When the season is in full tilt i’m glued to the TV. I’ve read the books, watched the films, I even play for a team in Yorkshire called The Doncaster Mustangs. If I lived in the states I’m positive I’d be doing something within the sport (not playing though, I’m a distinctly average athlete). I worked, and still do on a part-time basis, in the service industry and almost embraced it fully, as I had always liked – not loved, nor enjoyed – just liked the job and I was good at it to boot.

Seven years ago I watched a segment on TV where authors Neil Strauss and Tim Ferriss had a one on one discussion about their respective careers in writing. Ferriss asked Strauss what he thought was the key component to finding a career that you love. Strauss responded with this “There’s two things. Firstly, whatever you were doing when you were 11 or 12 that a parent or school teacher didn’t make you do is your passion. For me I when I was 11 I wrote a whole book. Sent it to publishers and nobody, not a single agent wrote back, no one responded so I got used to rejection. Secondly, what would you do if you didn’t get paid for it?”

I remember with the most intense ferocity that when Strauss finished the sentence about what you did as an 11 year old, I whispered to myself, “Drawing”. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I could tell you where I was sat, what the weather was like, what shift at work I was doing, and especially what I did the day after; buy a sketch pad and pencils, and start drawing.

Anyway, above is a illustration of a place in Nova Scotia called Peggy’s Cove. Enjoy.

Frustration

There are days where everything seems to go right. The work flows, you feel good, and the piece you makes excites you. This is not one of those days. This piece was really tough to do and took a long time to complete. It’s another of those illustrations that I’m not sure how I feel about. I think mostly because the composition seems a bit off, there’s a lot of information being bombarded at you, and there are too many colors. Next piece that goes up is going to be a simple one… I hope…

Cheers

Matt

Under the Rug

I’m not sure why, but this one took ages to get right. Above is the final version, and funnily enough it was also the first idea I had. However, as is often typical when planning pieces, I go through a series of roughs first in order to find something that is perhaps more well thought out or clever. I tried a version where the tower is on fire in an attempt at irony, but it didn’t sit well compositionally (I’m not even sure if that’s a word). I tried adding an FBI undercover van and entitling the piece “Who Watches the Watchtowers?”, but I wasn’t sure without the title whether people would get it. I tried adding a pile of used fire extinguishers – nope, then a caveman trying to make fire – also nope. I almost settled on someone carving Easter Island heads (they’re called Moai, so wikipedia tells me) from the rocks, but I thought people would try to read into the connection between the fire watchtower and the heads (there isn’t one by the way), so I scrapped the idea. I eventually settle on my first rough because it fit the series of illustrations I’d done previously. The best ideas I have usually come fully formed, but every now and again I really have to try and try, and it can be incredibly frustrating, and I just have to settle on a piece because if I don’t it’ll never get finished and I’ll never draw anything ever again… ever. A tad melodramatic perhaps. Anyway, I settled on this idea and I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers

Matt